Are Humans Born Good Or Evil?

Are Humans Born Good Or Evil?

We don't live in a good or evil world, but an unprincipled one.
16244
views

I’ve often heard the question asked: “Are humans born good, or are they born evil?” The answer depends on the person and, based on the answer, you can derive whether that person is a cynic or an optimistic thinker.

For instance, if I were to answer that people are naturally bad, I would most likely believe that people are also selfish, egotistical, and untrustworthy most of the time. If I were to answer that people are naturally good, I would most likely believe that people are also honest, kind, and trustworthy most of the time.

But we must consider that “good” and “evil” are merely value judgements that humans impose on others in order to understand them. Good and evil aren’t qualities found in things themselves. I can’t pull on my scientist’s lab coat, adjust the lens on my microscope, place a human being under the glass slide, and discover whether or not that person is good or evil.

This of course leads to the conclusion that good and evil aren’t scientific and, therefore, don’t exist in the actual world; but, for most people, this answer is unsatisfying. Since there are people, and there are value judgements, I must conceive of a different answer.

As a substitute teacher, and having taught in a classroom of kindergarteners for two months, I can reasonably say that humans aren’t born good or evil--they are born unprincipled.

People live according to a set of principles, and these vary according to culture. Principles guide behavior, and when these principles are infringed upon, we have societal laws and entertainment (distractions) to keep people in check. But principles aren’t just found at the cultural level. Principles are found in schools, in the workplace, and in everyday social interactions.

What I mean when I say that people are born unprincipled, what I mean is that they are born not knowing how to act in a manner conducive to the welfare of a community or society.

A school, for instance, has rules and principles that students must act in accordance with. If these rules and principles aren’t followed, then chaos is sure to ensue.

Children are unprincipled until taught otherwise. The kindergarteners that I had for two months were unprincipled until I taught them otherwise (Well, I usually bribed them with treats and free time, but that’s beside the point).

The point is that humans must be taught how to act. They don’t come into the world already understanding proper social norms and behaviors.

If we lived in a world where people weren’t taught how to act, it seems quite natural that people would act in mostly selfish ways. Our primal instinct is to look out for ourselves first, and that was one of the observations I made in a classroom full of five and six year-olds.

As children, we need to be taught how to share and be kind. We need to assimilate to the fact that stealing and hurting others are illegal. Punishment and reward are our greatest motivators, and without these, we would still be living in caves.

From what has just been said, it might seem that humans are born evil since they must be taught how to act in principled ways. This is certainly one way to look at it, but one that I believe is too simplistic.

We live in an unprincipled world. We don’t live in a good or evil world. Good and evil come later. They come when principles fail… or succeed.

Cover Image Credit: http://wallpapercave.com

Popular Right Now

8 Reasons Why My Dad Is the Most Important Man In My Life

Forever my number one guy.
49421
views

Growing up, there's been one consistent man I can always count on, my father. In any aspect of my life, my dad has always been there, showing me unconditional love and respect every day. No matter what, I know that my dad will always be the most important man in my life for many reasons.

1. He has always been there.

Literally. From the day I was born until today, I have never not been able to count on my dad to be there for me, uplift me and be the best dad he can be.

2. He learned to adapt and suffer through girly trends to make me happy.

I'm sure when my dad was younger and pictured his future, he didn't think about the Barbie pretend pageants, dressing up as a princess, perfecting my pigtails and enduring other countless girly events. My dad never turned me down when I wanted to play a game, no matter what and was always willing to help me pick out cute outfits and do my hair before preschool.

3. He sends the cutest texts.

Random text messages since I have gotten my own cell phone have always come my way from my dad. Those randoms "I love you so much" and "I am so proud of you" never fail to make me smile, and I can always count on my dad for an adorable text message when I'm feeling down.

4. He taught me how to be brave.

When I needed to learn how to swim, he threw me in the pool. When I needed to learn how to ride a bike, he went alongside me and made sure I didn't fall too badly. When I needed to learn how to drive, he was there next to me, making sure I didn't crash.

5. He encourages me to best the best I can be.

My dad sees the best in me, no matter how much I fail. He's always there to support me and turn my failures into successes. He can sit on the phone with me for hours, talking future career stuff and listening to me lay out my future plans and goals. He wants the absolute best for me, and no is never an option, he is always willing to do whatever it takes to get me where I need to be.

6. He gets sentimental way too often, but it's cute.

Whether you're sitting down at the kitchen table, reminiscing about your childhood, or that one song comes on that your dad insists you will dance to together on your wedding day, your dad's emotions often come out in the cutest possible way, forever reminding you how loved you are.


7. He supports you, emotionally and financially.

Need to vent about a guy in your life that isn't treating you well? My dad is there. Need some extra cash to help fund spring break? He's there for that, too.

8. He shows me how I should be treated.

Yes, my dad treats me like a princess, and I don't expect every guy I meet to wait on me hand and foot, but I do expect respect, and that's exactly what my dad showed I deserve. From the way he loves, admires, and respects me, he shows me that there are guys out there who will one day come along and treat me like that. My dad always advises me to not put up with less than I deserve and assures me that the right guy will come along one day.

For these reasons and more, my dad will forever be my No. 1 man. I love you!

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

Why The Idea Of 'No Politics At The Dinner Table' Takes Place And Why We Should Avoid It

When did having a dialogue become so rare?

363
views

Why has the art of civilized debate and conversation become unheard of in daily life? Why is it considered impolite to talk politics with coworkers and friends? Expressing ideas and discussing different opinions should not be looked down upon.

I have a few ideas as to why this is our current societal norm.

1. Politics is personal.

Your politics can reveal a lot about who you are. Expressing these (sometimes controversial) opinions may put you in a vulnerable position. It is possible for people to draw unfair conclusions from one viewpoint you hold. This fosters a fear of judgment when it comes to our political beliefs.

Regardless of where you lie on the spectrum of political belief, there is a world of assumption that goes along with any opinion. People have a growing concern that others won't hear them out based on one belief.

As if a single opinion could tell you all that you should know about someone. Do your political opinions reflect who you are as a person? Does it reflect your hobbies? Your past?

The question becomes "are your politics indicative enough of who you are as a person to warrant a complete judgment?"

Personally, I do not think you would even scratch the surface of who I am just from knowing my political identification.

2. People are impolite.

The politics themselves are not impolite. But many people who wield passionate, political opinion act impolite and rude when it comes to those who disagree.

The avoidance of this topic among friends, family, acquaintances and just in general, is out of a desire to 'keep the peace'. Many people have friends who disagree with them and even family who disagree with them. We justify our silence out of a desire to avoid unpleasant situations.

I will offer this: It might even be better to argue with the ones you love and care about, because they already know who you are aside from your politics, and they love you unconditionally (or at least I would hope).

We should be having these unpleasant conversations. And you know what? They don't even need to be unpleasant! Shouldn't we be capable of debating in a civilized manner? Can't we find common ground?

I attribute the loss of political conversation in daily life to these factors. 'Keeping the peace' isn't an excuse. We should be discussing our opinions constantly and we should be discussing them with those who think differently.

Instead of discouraging political conversation, we should be encouraging kindness and understanding. That's how we will avoid the unpleasantness that these conversations sometimes bring.

By avoiding them altogether, we are doing our youth a disservice because they are not being exposed to government, law, and politics, and they are not learning to deal with people and ideas that they don't agree with.

Next Thanksgiving, talk politics at the table.

Related Content

Facebook Comments